Whether your fitness goals involve weight loss, building mass, increased strength, endurance, or almost any other fitness goal you may have, having more muscle will help you with all of them! Now, you do not need bodybuilder levels of muscle mass to achieve your goals (especially as that takes years of dedication in the gym and a very specific diet.) A good goal is having enough lean muscle tissue for a healthy functioning body and a nice toned look, with proper levels of body fat.
Everyone should have resistance training as a part of their overall fitness routine to help build muscle, but you don’t need to train for hours to be effective either. When you are working out, what are you doing in between sets? Playing on your phone or taking selfies? Talking to a friend? Walking around the gym? All of these can waste valuable gym time. Realistically, an effective resistance training workout shouldn’t last longer than 30-45 minutes! We aren’t suggesting you shouldn’t rest in between sets, but to be really effective, you need to use your rest time to your advantage and perform a static stretch! A static stretch is placing a muscle or muscle group in an extended position for a certain amount of time – usually just 10-30 seconds.
“But shouldn’t stretching be performed before or after a workout? Why would anybody stretch during a workout?”
That is a fair question to ask. When you work out, especially at a higher intensity regarding reps/sets, you can develop a “pump.” Everyone has probably felt it before – it is when you get a rush of blood to the target muscle and it feels bigger and pumped up, hence the name. Well, blood rush isn’t the only reason for this “pump.” When you use a muscle for an intense workout like resistance training, the muscle itself actually becomes slightly shorter and tighter. This leads to a decrease in the active range of motion for the muscles you are using. With less range of motion, you won’t be recruiting all of your muscle fibers like you should be during a specific workout, therefore overtime not allowing your muscles to reach their full potential and missing out on strength and size gains.
Regardless of how long you plan to rest inbetween sets, perform a static stretch on the targeted muscle for no more than 30 seconds. For example, if performing a squat, stretch your quads in between each set for 25-30 seconds. Also, be sure to keep each stretch within a semi-comfortable range. Stretching to, or past, the point of pain is not recommended. Below is an example; anterior push-workout that incorporates this static stretching principle!
*Between each set, rest for 30-60 seconds and perform the static stretches listed. In-between exercises, rest 1-2 minutes without any stretching
Bench Press 4×8 (bent arm wall/doorway stretch)
Perform this by flexing the elbow at 90 degrees and leave the upper arm parallel with the ground. Place your forearm and hand on a corner of a wall or a door frame and step through until you feel a stretch in your chest. Repeat on the other side
Barbell Squat 4×10 (1 arm quad pull)
With one arm grabbing something for balance, use your other arm to grab the ipsilateral leg at the ankle behind your body. Pull your foot towards your glutes until you feel a stretch in the quads. Repeat for the other side.
Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3×12 (Above the head chest stretch)
Iinterlock your fingers behind your head and squeeze your scapula together while pulling your elbows back until you feel a stretch in your chest.
Bulgarian Split Squat 4×6 each leg (Lunge stretch)
Place one knee on the ground with your contralateral leg placed in front of you with a 90 degree bend in the knee. Lean forward into the front leg until you feel a stretch on your hip flexor and quad. For a more intense quad stretch, grab your back leg at your ankle and pull up to your glute, similar to the quad pull stretch. Repeat for the other side.
Shoulder Press 3×12 (across the body shoulder stretch)
Bring one arm across your body and use your other arm to hug it in close until you feel a stretch in your deltoid/upper arm and chest. Repeat for the other side.
Calf Raises 3xfailure (calf wall stretch)
With a staggered stance, place the toes of your front foot on a wall with your heel on the ground. Lean your body forward into the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf. Repeat on the other side.
After a workout involving this stretching component, the microdamage you will accrue will be very noticeable the next day via soreness. It is therefore important to ensure your body is getting enough protein so that your muscles can rebuild and recover. Without proper recovery and protein consumption, your future workouts and goals will suffer. IdealRaw has the perfect solution for you with their organic plant-based protein. It has 15g of high quality protein with just 2g of natural sugars, so you get more of what you need, but without compromising on taste or health! So next time you workout, use your rest times to work smarter, not harder and make sure you recover with a high-quality protein drink like IdealRaw. When using this quick and simple little secret, you will get bigger muscles in a shorter amount of time!